Monday Mornings with Madison

Boost Your Brain to Extend Your Career

There is one thing that all people – from entry level employees to top leaders in every profession and occupation – have in common.  Every person is getting older.  It is generally accepted that with age comes deterioration.  By middle age, there is the appearance of gray hair, age spots and wrinkles.  On the inside, the deterioration is less visible but possibly more profound.  Inflammation causes stiff joints.  Brain cells deteriorate.  This affects memory, communication, language, ability to focus and pay attention, reasoning and judgment, and visual perception.  Over time, such mental wear-and-tear can profoundly impact workplace productivity, safety, creativity, interpersonal skills and more. Continue reading

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Agreeable, Disagreeble and the Ability to Disagree

Most character traits can be a quality or a flaw, depending on the situation or circumstances.  A coworker who is very detail-oriented might also be considered nitpicky or persnickety.  An employee who is very communicative can also be perceived as being a chatty Cathy.  A boss who is very direct might also be seen as aggressive or blunt.  What is seen as a positive trait in one situation could just as easily be viewed as a personality failing in another situation. The truth is that every characteristic – even the negative ones — probably has value at the right time, place or in moderation but might also be problematic when applied in excess or in the wrong situation. Continue reading

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The Power of Promises in Business – Part 2

The Cost of Broken Promises and Path to Keeping Them

Research by Accenture has confirmed what most smart business people have long believed to be true:  broken promises hurt business.  Day in and day out, many businesses make overt or implied promises to customers.  Often, those promises are intentionally, carelessly or inadvertently broken.  In any given year, nearly half of customers have a promise broken by a company with which they do business.  Of those, almost two thirds report companies breaking multiple promises.  Some industries are more habitual in breaking promises than others.   Continue reading

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The Power of Promises in Business – Part 1

What Happens When Companies Break Promises?

Every day, businesses make promises to its internal and external customers.  Throughout the relationship life cycle, from entry level clerks to the top brass, employees at every level of every company make promises to customers regarding work to be done, deadlines to be met, or issues to be resolved.  Some of those promises are explicit.  “I give you my word….”  “Count on it.”  “Rest assured, it will be there on time.”  Other promises are implied.  Implied promises can be just as powerful as expressed ones. Everyone recognizes a commitment has been made when a business advertises that it has “the fastest turnaround times in the industry,” or a salesperson says “I’ll send you that proposal by the close of business today.”   There are countless implied promises that a business makes in its marketing materials, sales pitch and customer service. Continue reading

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The Connection Between Happiness and Place

The U.S. Declaration of Independence boldly states in the Preamble that “All men are created equal.  And that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.  That among these rights is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  The pursuit of happiness was and is still viewed today as an undeniable right and goal of all people.  Of course, one doesn’t have to be a scientist to know that there are many factors that impact individual happiness.  Relationships.  Career.  Economic well-being.  Personal freedom.  Spirituality.  Physical fitness.  Emotional health.  However, little scientific research had been done on measuring happiness… until recently.  More and more, there has been a push to understand what affects happiness in order to be able to pursue and attain it. Continue reading

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The Most Underestimated, Undervalued and Needed Skill in Business – Part 2

Good Writing

Imagine this.  An employee has to write a proposal for a prospective client.  The proposal is not something that can be copied from something else online or taken from another sample.  Now imagine that the proposal goes out to the prospective client, filled with spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes.  In the proposal, the company’s values and services are unclear.  How would that employee’s manager feel if he got wind of that document?  Embarrassed?  Humiliated?  How would that proposal affect the company’s ability to land that client?  How would that proposal impact that employee’s upward mobility? Continue reading

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The Most Underestimated, Undervalued and Needed Skill in Business – Part 1

Good Writing

What skill is the least venerated, most underrated and yet most essential skill in business today?  Is it the ability to speak clearly and connect with people?  No, although it is a vital skill and most people think the best leaders are those who can deliver a rousing, engaging speech.  Is it excellent resource management?  No, even though managers who can get the most productivity out of their team generally get the best bonuses.   Is it the ability to crunch numbers and data in order to maximize profitability?  No, but the number-crunchers definitely have the most power and control within most organizations.  Is it the ability to persuade and sell?  No, even though salespeople are treated like royalty at most companies.  Actually, the skill that is probably the most valuable for managers, leaders and business people at all levels in all industries is the ability to write well. Continue reading

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Managing Staff Vacations during the Dog Days of Summer

The temperature is anywhere between a sizzling 82 degrees and a scorching 102 degrees, from Montauk to Miami and from Dallas to Des Moines.  Kids are wrapping up their summer break from school.  Families are heading to the shore, water parks and lakes to cool off or up to the mountains to relax.  Adventure seekers are cruising, sailing and soaring to far-off destinations.  Vacations abound. Continue reading

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The Road to Employee Productivity is Paved with High Expectations

There are countless sayings about setting high expectations.  Aim high.  Shoot for the stars.  Raise the bar.  The belief is that the higher the expectations, the greater the results.  But is this actually true?  Can the expectations that we set for a person actually affect how well that person performs?  Has this been validated scientifically or is it just an old wives tale? Continue reading

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When a Company’s Brand Sends Mixed Signals – Part 2

Eliminating Mixed Messages with the Three Cs

In many ways, the brand is the Achilles heel of the corporate world.  As companies shift more and more to being all about brand meaning and brand image, the more vulnerable they are to attacks on image.  That is why it is increasingly critical for companies to protect every aspect of their brand, and work hard to avoid having any mixed messages about the company’s purpose and position.   That includes guiding – as much as is possible or practical – what the company’s own people say about the company.  This is a challenge for even the most successful businesses. Continue reading

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